Sinazongwe UPND information and publicity secretary George Bbabbi has appealed to his party to consider electing new leaders for all junior positions to enable it bring on board fresh ideas before going for the major convention to elect a presidential candidate.

And Bbabbi charged that always crying over election outcomes and accusing other political parties of stealing votes would not help the UPND as long as it did not address its in-house challenges.

Speaking when he phoned to News Diggers! to express concerns over the party’s continued stay in the opposition after so many attempts at general elections, Bbabbi said a convention would do well for the party because it would provide an opportunity for the country’s biggest opposition political party to replace under-performing leaders.

“I feel as members of UPND, it is now time to go to the convention because most of our members were elected in 1998 since the party was formed by the late Anderson Mazoka. So, most of the positions are being held by people who were elected at that time. But in politics, you need new ideas. So, I feel some of us have outlived our usefulness in our positions. Some people are not even working, they are just there ‘no I am a Chairman, I am a treasurer’ without knowing what should be done for us to usher the (party) president in State House. This is a very serious issue that needs urgent attention from our party. We need to go to the convention whether we like it or not. And that must start from the branches up to the national level. Then after we finish there, we should go for the main convention to elect the president and top officials, that is my suggestion,” Bbabbi said.

“However, I think the position of president is safe because [HH] is doing his level best, he’s on top of things and the vice-president is also working very well. But below, all of us must be elected again. If I am not doing any good for the party, I must be replaced. We need new ideas and fresh blood in the party. If I as Bbabbi, I am not working well then I should be replaced. But if I am working well for the people, then they will elect me again and I am ready for that myself. If I am not doing anything I should be replaced by someone who is more capable, that is democracy.”

He expressed frustration that the UPND had been languishing in the opposition for over 20 years.

“Some people have become wizards to protect their positions! But what position [are you protecting] when you are not even in government? You are always in the opposition, so what is a position for? What we need is to help HH and GBM; they are doing a lot for the party. But some of us, the members, we are not helping them. We are so reluctant just because we were elected in 1998. You can’t have a situation where most of the officials were elected in 1998; I know some disgruntled elements will say ‘why is Mr Bbabbi talking like this?’ No! We are frustrated, we are not happy! It’s too much to be in the opposition from 1998 and up to today we are still in the opposition. New born puppies formed government before us. It’s because of what we do in our party, we have to strategize and see how we can revamp our party,” he observed.

Bbabbi also dismissed the notion of always apportioning blame for the UPND’s electoral losses on third parties.

“This issue of always being cry-babies ‘oh they have stolen our votes’ must come to end! We have to strategize. Where are we going wrong? Because, surely, there is something we are not doing right. There is no way if at my house, thieves broke in and stole everything using the door, then even tomorrow the same thing happens. I have to find out if maybe the door needs to be replaced. The issue of being cry-babies will not help us. We have the largest opposition in Zambia and in 2021 we have to usher HH into State House or else that will be the end of our party,” warned Bbabbi.

“I know some disgruntled elements will not be happy about this and they will crucify me! But what I am saying is the truth; that is what is on the ground. I am on the ground and I am always with the people and these are the issues that people talk about. So, I feel this issue of going to the convention is non-negotiable; we have to go there and we need to do it earlier because when we come from a convention, there are some divisions. So, if we do it now in 2019, by 2020, all those who will not be happy will start coming back again. But if we do our convention in 2021, it will become costly for the party because after the convention, we’ll either be united or divided.”